By: Mpho Shelile

On May 21, 2024, Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT) launches a campaign aimed at bridging the gap between public relations (PR) and journalism.

The campaign, titled “Bridging the Gap between Public Relations and Journalism,” seeks to improve understanding and collaboration between these two crucial fields. This initiative acknowledges the changing media landscape where the roles of PR professionals and journalists are increasingly interconnected, especially with the growth of digital media and social platforms.

Lerato Leema, a second-year public relations student at LUCT, mentioned in his opening remarks that one of the main goals of the campaign is to address the delicate and sometimes strained relationship between PR and journalism. The aim is to promote a collaborative and harmonious relationship between the two. He highlighted that historically, journalists have been skeptical of PR practitioners who use their media connections to spread information.

However, the modern media environment, characterized by reduced newsroom staff and increased reliance on digital content, has led to PR becoming more influential, sometimes at the expense of journalistic independence and public trust. “Through this campaign, we aspire to create a more effective media landscape where media professionals and PRs can work together seamlessly to inform, educate, and inspire the public,” he concluded.

“During their presentation, Mr. Malefetsane Masupha highlighted the shared responsibilities and common goals of both professions in disseminating accurate and timely information to the public. He stated that effective communication and mutual respect between PR professionals and journalists are essential for managing crises and ensuring transparency. This relationship becomes even more crucial in situations requiring coordinated responses, such as during public health crises or corporate scandals.

“Furthermore, the increasing prevalence of social media has led to a convergence of public relations and journalism. Both fields make use of these platforms to interact with audiences and disseminate information rapidly. The campaign highlighted the significance of adapting to these developments while upholding ethical standards and credibility,” he stated.

Malefetsane also stated that in their research, they have discovered the challenges that PRs and journalists face in Lesotho. The first challenge is limited resources, lack of transparency, and ethical dynamics. “The lack of accurate flow of news to the public fails, LUCT works very hard to ensure that those two professionals perform their duties with integrity in journalism,” he said.

In his statement, a public relations lecture at LUCT, Mr. Stephen Hlongoane emphasized that Basotho journalists excessively prioritize political reporting. He declared, “The news lacks accuracy, depth, and entertainment value.” Hlongoane urged journalists to introspect about their current state and make necessary improvements.

Additionally, he highlighted that many journalists lack proper qualifications, stating, “Just as one cannot practice law without qualifications, anyone can become a PR or journalist.” He recommended that those without qualifications pursue part-time classes to enhance their knowledge.

“With this initiative, LUCT aims to provide a platform for dialogue and collaboration, encouraging PR practitioners and journalists to work together towards a more informed and engaged public. The collaborative dialogue campaign is designed to enhance the skills and understanding of participants from both fields. Ultimately, the goal is to build a more cohesive and effective media ecosystem in Lesotho.